How to Paint Old Particleboard Cabinets

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Painting old cabinets help make them feel like new.
Image Credit: Paul Taylor/DigitalVision/GettyImages

If you have cabinets made of particleboard, you might find yourself wishing they had a more polished appearance. Fortunately, it is possible to paint cabinets of this type, though it is necessary to prep the wood to ensure an aesthetically pleasing appearance when you are done. If proper legwork is done, you can enjoy fabulous looking cabinets that match any décor scheme.

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Important Safety Considerations

When conducting any painting project, be sure you keep all paint thinners, primers and paints out of reach of pets and children. If you are using a drop cloth, be sure no children are around, as it can be a suffocation risk.

In addition, be sure the area where you're working is very well ventilated. You may be working with cabinets that are still attached to the walls, in which case you will need to open doors or windows in that space before you get started. Alternatively, you could be painting cabinets that have not yet been installed or that you removed from the walls. If you do this, be sure you are working in an area with good airflow.

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Necessary Prep Work

Your particleboard kitchen cabinet makeover should begin with prep work. First, remove any hinges, knobs or handles that are on the cabinets. If the cabinets had a veneer of some kind that has fallen off and you'd like to repair, glue it back on and clamp it now.

Lay down a drop cloth and tape the edges of the cabinets where they meet the wall. Dust your cabinets and wipe them with a damp cloth to remove particulate. Allow them to dry.

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If your cabinets have any dents or holes you would like to fill, do so with putty. Then, lightly sand the cabinets to remove any rough spots or bumps and then wipe them down again.

Painting Particleboard Cabinets

Use an oil-based primer as a first coat on your cabinets. This is a good choice because it won't peel off the board in a sheet when pulled, which latex primer can do over time. Since particleboard is rough and any existing veneers may be very smooth, you'll want a primer that really adheres to the cabinets. According to Sherwin Williams Paints, choosing a light-colored primer can be a good idea, and many paints are optimally displayed when applied over a gray base coat.

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Painting fake wood cabinets can be approached in several ways. You may choose to use any color or type of paint you choose, provided you have prepped the wood properly. Oil-based paints may be a good choice, but note that they tend to smell strong, so excellent ventilation is critical.

Once you've painted one coat on your cabinets, allow it to dry thoroughly. Particleboard has a tendency to absorb paint quite easily and you may need to apply several coats to achieve the color you want. The darker your primer and the particleboard beneath and the lighter the topcoat color you choose, the more coats you are likely to need.

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Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.